Sūtra on the Śūraṅgama Mantra That Is Spoken from above the Crown of the Great Buddha’s Head, and on the Hidden Basis of the Thus-Come Ones’ Myriad Bodhisattva-Practices That Lead to Their Verifications of Ultimate Truth

VOLUME IX

B. The Gods of the Eighteen Heavens of Form: The First Dhyāna

[1] “Ānanda, some people in this world, in refining their minds, do not avail themselves of the practice of meditation in stillness, and so they do not develop wisdom. Nevertheless, if they can refrain from sexual activity and if their minds are free at all times of any thought of sexual desire such that they are undefiled by sexual passion, they will not remain in the realm of desire. These people, if they wish, may be reborn as one of the companions of Brahma in the Heaven of Brahma’s Retinue.

[2] “These people have cast out their habits of desire, and with their minds free of desire, they delight in following the precepts and the rules of deportment. At all times, they are able to practice the virtue of purity, and so they become gods in the Heaven of the Ministers of Brahma.

[3] “When in body and mind these people have attained a wondrous perfection such that their flawless deportment inspires awe, they will not only follow the prohibitory precepts in complete purity but will gain a clarity of understanding as well. They become great Brahman kings in the Heaven of the Great Brahma, and at all times they are able to govern their retinues of gods.

“Ānanda, the gods at these three levels are free of the burdens of suffering and affliction. Although their samādhi is not the genuine samādhi that results from correct practice, their minds are nevertheless pure, and their outflows are not active. These are the gods of the heavens of the first dhyāna.

B. The Gods of the Eighteen Heavens of Form: The Second Dhyāna

[4] “Next, Ānanda, above the gods of the Brahma Heavens are gods who govern them and who have perfected the practice of purity. The minds of these higher gods are lucid and still. From their deep tranquility, light comes forth. They abide in the Heaven of Lesser Light.

[5] “Next are gods who emit light and who — as they shine upon one another with an inexhaustible brilliance — illumine their realm throughout the ten directions, turning it all to crystal. They abide in the Heaven of All-Permeating Light.

[6] “Next are gods who take full control of their light, having mastered the essence of the teaching about it. They are able to emit and to respond to many kinds of pure light, and they use this light to convey countless meanings. They abide in the Heaven of Speech by Means of Light.

“The gods of these three heavens, which are higher than the heavens of the first dhyāna, are freed from the burdens of worry and anxiety. Although their samādhi is not the genuine samādhi that results from correct practice, their minds are nevertheless pure, and their coarse outflows have been subdued. They are the gods of the heavens of the second dhyāna.

C. The Gods of the Eighteen Heavens of Form: The Third Dhyāna

[7] “Ānanda, to the gods who have perfected light as a medium of communication, the wondrous secrets of this medium are now revealed. They refine their practice until they succeed in opening their minds to the bliss of stillness. These are the gods of the Heaven of Lesser Purity.

[8] “Next they experience a state of purity and emptiness which expands until it becomes boundless. Their bodies and minds are serene and are filled with tranquil bliss. These are the gods of the Heaven of All-Permeating Purity.

[9] “After their bodies and minds have become completely pure, the world itself is purified due to the virtue of their perfected purity. This purified state becomes a superior place of refuge in which they can rest in the bliss of tranquility. These are the gods of the Heaven of Universal Purity.

“Ānanda, in these three heavens, which are above the heavens of the second dhyāna, the gods experience perfect harmony, and their bodies and minds are peaceful and secure. They enjoy all-permeating bliss. Their samādhi is not the genuine samādhi that results from correct practice, but because their minds are peaceful and secure, they are filled with bliss. These are the gods of the Heavens of the third dhyāna.

D. The Gods of the Eighteen Heavens of Form: The Fourth Dhyāna

[10] “Moreover, Ānanda, there are gods whose bodies and minds are no longer creating the causes for future suffering. They realize that the bliss of the heavens is impermanent and must eventually decay, and they thereupon renounce both suffering and bliss. Because they have put an end to all coarse and burdensome mental attributes, the essence of pure blessing is created. These are the gods of the Heaven of the Creation of Blessings.

[11] “Once they have wholly renounced those mental states, they gain a superior understanding and purity. In their state of unlimited merit, they experience a wondrous harmony that is everlasting. These are the gods of the Heaven of Cherished Blessings.

[12] “From that heaven, Ānanda, the path divides. On one path, some gods of the Heaven of Cherished Blessings are able to shine with a pure and infinite radiance such that the light of their blessings and their merit is perfected. They will be secure in the results of their practice and will become gods of the Heaven of Great Fruition.

[13] “On the other path are gods who, while dwelling in the Heaven of Cherished Blessings, reject both suffering and bliss and intensely and unrelentingly investigate the practice of renunciation. When they have thoroughly understood that practice and have completely mastered it, their bodies disintegrate, and for five hundred eons their minds are utterly still, like cold and compacted ashes. But because they have based their practice on the mind that comes into being and ceases to be, they are unable to discover the true nature that neither comes into being nor ceases to be. Their cognitive processes cease but then revive during the last half of the final eon. These are the gods of the Heaven of the Cessation of Cognition.

“Ānanda, the gods of these four heavens, which are above the heavens of the third dhyāna, can no longer be influenced by any worldly states of suffering or bliss. However, they do not base their practice on the unmoving and unconditioned mind, and they still harbor intentions to attain something. Yet their spiritual skill is pure and perfected. These are the gods of the heavens of the fourth dhyāna.

E. The Gods of the Eighteen Heavens of Form: The Pure Abodes

“Also within this dhyāna, Ānanda, are the five Heavens of Pure Abode. The gods in these heavens have by this time completely eliminated the nine stages of habitual delusion. Here both suffering and bliss have been forgotten. These gods will never again live at any lesser celestial level. They dwell together in a place of peace, each of them at an equal level of renunciation.

[14] “First, Ānanda, are gods for whom both suffering and bliss have ended so that they no longer have to struggle with contrasting experiences. These beings are the gods of the Heaven Beyond Affliction.

[15] “Next are the gods who, having focused their practice exclusively on renunciation, no longer harbor any basis for even the thought of suffering and bliss. These are the gods of the Heaven Beyond Heat.

[16] “Next, throughout the worlds in the ten directions, their wondrous vision becomes so flawlessly clear that no perceived object can defile it. These are the gods of the Heaven of Refined Vision.

[17] “Next, their skill in envisioning becomes yet more refined, like the skills of a master potter. These are the gods of the Heaven of Clear Envisioning.

[18] “When their contemplation of the myriad subtleties of the nature of form and the nature of space reaches its ultimate point, they enter a state of boundlessness and become gods of the Highest Heaven of Form.

“Ānanda, the gods of the lower heavens of the fourth dhāyna — and even their kings — cannot see the gods of these five higher heavens. They only hear about them with admiration, just as ordinary dull-witted people in the world cannot see Arhats dwelling in the wilderness or deep in the mountains, where they keep up their practices in their sacred places for awakening.

“Ānanda, the gods of these eighteen heavens practice in solitude, free of entanglements. But they have not yet set down the burden of their bodies. Thus all these heavens comprise the Realm of Form.

F. The Gods on the Four Planes of Formlessness

“Moreover, Ānanda, at the very summit of the Realm of Form, the path again divides. On one path are those who in their practice of renunciation develop to perfection the full light of their wisdom. These gods will transcend all three realms and will become Arhats who will board the Vehicle of the Bodhisattvas.

[1] “On the second path are gods who, having been successful in their practice of renunciation, realize that their bodies are an obstacle to further progress. They cause their bodies to vanish and to become like space. Then they become gods on the Plane of Boundless Space.

[2] “Next are gods who, having caused the obstacle of their bodies to vanish, now find that there are no further obstacles of form for them to put an end to. Only their storehouse-consciousness and half of the subtle functions of the individuating consciousness remain. These are the gods on the Plane of Boundless Consciousness.

[3] “When both form and space have come to an end for these gods, and when their conscious minds have disappeared entirely, then there is stillness throughout the ten directions. Nothing remains, and there is no place to go. These are the gods on the Plane on Which One Has Nothing.

[4] “When their storehouse-consciousness is completely inactive, these gods can make use of this cessation of activity to contemplate deeply, so that within the endlessness of that consciousness, the nature that lies at its ending nevertheless becomes known to them. That consciousness now seems to exist and yet not to exist; it seems to have disappeared and yet has not. These are the gods on the Plane on Which Cognition Is Absent Yet Not Absent.

“The gods in these heavens have deeply contemplated their emptied consciousness and yet have failed to understand its true nature. This is the end of the sages’ path that led from the Heavens of Pure Abode. These gods now become Arhats of inferior ability who turn away from the Vehicle of the Bodhisattvas.

“Other gods, who have come from the Heaven of Cessation of Cognition and from other heavens that are not on the right path, never return from their deep contemplation of their emptied consciousnesses. Because they lack the knowledge they need, they become lost in these heavens. As gods who have outflows, they eventually will fall back into the cycle of death and rebirth.

“Ānanda, the gods of these heavens are not enlightened. Having enjoyed the rewards that were the results of their good karma, they must again be bound to the cycle of death and rebirth. But the kings of these heavens are Bodhisattvas. They play this role while in samādhi, and thereby they gradually progress in their practice towards the level of the Sages.

“With regard to the gods on these four planes of formlessness, Ānanda, the activities of their bodies disappear and their mental activities cease so that they abide in samādhi. They are no longer burdened by any form that is the result of karma. These four heavens comprise the realm of formlessness.

“None of the gods of these heavens fully comprehend the wondrous enlightened mind that understands. Such accumulated delusions as theirs bring about the illusory existence of the three realms. In the midst of these realms, each individual in his delusion sinks into the seven destinies to join other beings whose karmas are similar.”

The Destiny of Asuras

“Moreover, Ānanda, in the Three Realms there are also the asuras, who are of four kinds.

[1] “Asuras who take the path of ghosts, devoting their strength to protecting the Dharma, have the spiritual power to live in the air. These asuras are born from eggs, and are included in the destiny of ghosts.

[2] “Some asuras, because their merit is insufficient, fall from the heavens and are fated to dwell beneath the sun and the moon. These asuras are born from wombs and are included in the destiny of people.

[3] “Some asuras are world-commanding kings, both powerful and fearless. They contend for mastery with King Brahma, with Śakra, Lord of the Heavens, and with the Four Celestial Kings. These asuras are born by metamorphosis and are included in the destiny of gods.

[4] “Some asuras — a baser kind, Ānanda — are born in deepwater caves in the middle of the ocean. By day they emerge to fly about in the air, and at night they return to their watery abodes. These asuras are born in the presence of moisture and are included in the destiny of animals.”

The Seven Destinies Are the Result of Karma

“Ānanda, such is a detailed explanation of the seven destinies — of beings in the hells and of ghosts, animals, humans, ascetic masters, gods, and asuras. In their confusion, all are submerged in the attributes of the conditioned world. Their deluded mental activity leads them into rebirth in accordance with their karma. Within the wondrous perfect understanding that is the fundamental unconditioned mind, these destinies are like mirages of flowers seen in the sky. These destinies do not actually occupy any location; they are simply illusions. Even less do they signify anything real.

“These various beings fail to recognize the fundamental mind, Ānanda, and so they are bound to the cycle of death and rebirth. They pass through countless eons without ever attaining genuine purity, all because they indulge in killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct. If they break the precepts against these three, they will be born into the destiny of the ghosts and the other inauspicious destinies. If they avoid these offenses, they will enter the destinies of the gods and the other auspicious places of rebirth. Because these beings are constantly torn between their tendency to commit offenses and their tendency to refrain from committing offenses, they continue to be bound to the cycle of death and rebirth.

“When beings are able to enter this wondrous samādhi, they abide in a wondrous and everlasting stillness. That stillness is beyond the duality of existence and nonexistence, and that negating of duality is also ended. Since they have gone beyond the state in which there is killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct, how could they possibly commit those offenses?

“Ānanda, each being who has not put an end to these three intentional acts creates his own individual karma. Although each being’s retribution is his own, beings may undergo a common retribution together in a definite place. Their intentional acts arise from delusion, which itself has no cause. No matter how exhaustively you search for a cause, you will not find one.

“You should advise practitioners that if they wish to realize full awakening through their spiritual practice, they must no longer engage in these three deluded acts. If they do not cease engaging in them, then even if they should develop spiritual powers, their skills will be limited to the circumstances of the conditioned world. If they cannot put an end to their habits of killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct, they will take the path that leads to existence as a demon.

“Even if they want to cease committing these offenses, they will end up engaging in falsehood and making the offenses worse. The Thus-Come One says that such beings are pathetic and greatly to be pitied. You all should understand that you are responsible for your own deluded actions. Your true nature that is capable of full awakening is not to blame.

“What has been spoken here is the right teaching. To teach otherwise is the work of the demon-king.”

Fifty Demonic States of Mind

Dangers May Arise with Advanced Practice

Then the Thus-Come One prepared to leave the Dharma seat. Rising from the Lion’s Throne, he placed his hand on the table before him, which was wrought of the seven precious things. But then, moving his body, which was the color of purple-golden mountains, he sat down again, and he said to Ānanda and to the rest of the great assembly, “You who still need instruction, you Hearers of the Teaching and you Solitary Sages, have now dedicated yourselves to attaining a great awakening — the supreme and wondrous enlightenment. I have now taught you the right method for practice. But you are still not aware of the subtle demonic events that can occur when you undertake the practices of calming the mind and contemplative insight. If you do not purify your mind, you will not be able to recognize demonic states as they arise. You will not find the right path, and you will fall into the error of wrong views.

“Demons may arise within you from the five aggregates. Or a celestial demon or a ghost or a spirit — perhaps a mountain spirit or an animal-possessing ghost — may come to possess you. If your mind is not clear when this happens, you may well take a burglar to be your own child. Or you may feel satisfied with a small accomplishment, as did that monk who was ignorant of the Dharma. Having only reached the level of the fourth dhyāna, he made the false claim that he had become a sage. When his reward of celestial life had run its course and the signs of decay had appeared, he vilified the Arhats’ enlightenment, and so he was reborn in the Unrelenting Hell. Listen carefully while I explain this matter in detail.”

Ānanda and the others in the assembly who still needed instruction stood up, bowed to the ground joyfully, and then quieted their minds in order to be ready to receive the Buddha’s compassionate teaching.

The Buddha said to Ānanda and the rest of the great assembly, “You should know that although the twelve classes of beings in this world have outflows, they are, nevertheless, fundamentally identical to the Buddhas of the ten directions, in that they all are fundamentally endowed with the wondrous enlightened understanding — with the awakened, perfect, essential mind. But their thinking is deluded and they have a confused view of the truth, and so they stubbornly cling to emotional attachments.

“As a result, space appears, and as they become more and more confused, worlds come into being. In the lands in the ten directions, numerous as motes of dust, beings who have outflows are created out of confusion, obstinacy, and deluded thinking. You should know that space is created within the mind. It is like a wisp of cloud in the vastness of the sky. The worlds in the emptiness of space are even less significant. If you discover true reality by returning to the source, space throughout the ten directions will disappear. How could all the lands not cease to be as well?

“When you practice meditation in stillness and enter samādhi, the essence of your mind merges with the minds of the Bodhisattvas of the ten directions and with the minds of all the great Arhats, who have ended outflows. You abide in a place of profound purity. Then the kings of demons, ghosts, and spirits and the general population of gods see their palaces collapse inexplicably. Their lands quake. Terror strikes the creatures who move through water, on land, and in the air. Ordinary people, in the darkness of their confusion, know nothing of these events.

“All these demonic beings have five spiritual powers; they lack only freedom from outflows because they are still attached to the stress of entanglement with perceived objects. How could they be happy with seeing their palaces destroyed? Celestial demons, shape-shifting ghosts, and succubus-demons will all come to disturb your samādhi. But despite their furious rage, they are subject to the stress of entanglement with perceived objects, while you abide within wondrous enlightenment. Therefore they can do you no harm any more than wind can blow light away or a knife cut water. You are like water at the boil, and they are like ice frozen solid; as they come close to your warmth, they will melt. They have only their spiritual powers, so they can visit you only briefly. They cannot disturb you except through your mind, which is the host of the five aggregates. Only when the innkeeper is befuddled can his guests do as they please.

“When you are absorbed in meditation, fully awake and free of delusion, how will the deeds of these demons be able to affect you? For you, the five aggregates will have dissolved, and you will have entered into the light of understanding. These deviant hordes rely upon dark energy, and your light will overcome their darkness. If they come near you, they will be destroyed. How will they dare to linger and try to disrupt your samādhi? But if you have not awakened to the light of understanding and are confused by the five aggregates, Ānanda, you yourself could become a disciple of demons and could turn into a demon yourself.”

“Your encounter with the Mātaṅga woman was an exception, and it turned out to be a minor incident. Though she tried to make you break the Buddha’s rules, all she was able to do was to cast a spell on you. In the end, you only broke one among all the eighty thousand rules of conduct. Because your mind was pure, you did not fall. But if the demons of the aggregates had been able to destroy your precious Dharma-body, you would have become like a member of the family of a government minister whose property has been confiscated. The family is uprooted and scattered, with no one to pity them or come to their aid.

Ten Demonic States of Mind Associated with the Aggregate of Form

“You should know, Ānanda, that when you sit in a place for awakening, all your thoughts may melt away. When your thoughts come to a halt, only an essential awareness will remain. Movement outside your mind will seem the same as stillness, and the presence of thoughts in your mind will seem the same as the absence of thoughts. When you abide in this state, having entered samādhi, you will be like someone who ordinarily can see clearly but who finds himself in a dark place. His essential nature will be wonderfully pure, but his mind does not yet emit light. He is in the region of the aggregate of forms.

“When his mind’s vision does become bright, then ten directions will open out before him, and the darkness will be dispelled. Having come to the end of the aggregate of forms, he will now transcend the turbidity of time. His contemplations show him that the illusion of solid matter is the basis of this aggregate.

[1] “However, Ānanda, in the midst of his mental darkness, this person’s intense scrutiny within his wondrous awareness may reveal that the four primary elements are not ultimately interwoven into the body. Then in an instant he will be able to leave his body. This state is called ‘the essential awareness being able to emerge into one’s surroundings.’ What the practitioner has gained is temporary. It does not indicate that he has become a sage. There is nothing unwholesome about his state unless he thinks that he is now a sage. If he does think he is a sage, he will be open to a host of deviant influences.

[2] “Further, Ānanda, in the midst of his mental darkness, this person’s intense scrutiny within his wondrous awareness may allow him to see inside his own body. Suddenly he may find that he can pull intestinal worms out of his body without harming himself or the worms. This state is called ‘the essential awareness being able to reach deep into the physical body.’ What the practitioner has gained is temporary. It does not indicate that he has become a sage. There is nothing unwholesome about his state unless he thinks that he is now a sage. If he does think he is a sage, he will be open to a host of deviant influences.

[3] “Further, in the midst of his mental darkness, this person’s intense scrutiny may be directed both inward and outward. Then his will and the vital energies of his individual spirit may merge or become dissociated or exchange roles. His body will be unaffected. Suddenly he may hear the sound of someone teaching the Dharma in the middle of the air, or he will hear voices throughout the ten directions proclaiming identical esoteric teachings. This state is called ‘essential mental elements becoming dissociated and reintegrated as the result of the sprouting of wholesome seeds.’

What the practitioner has gained is temporary. It does not indicate that he has become a sage. There is nothing unwholesome about his state unless he thinks that he is now a sage. If he does think he is a sage, he will be open to a host of deviant influences.

[4] “Further, in the midst of his mental darkness, a brilliant light may appear within this person’s mind and then shine forth to imbue everything throughout the ten directions with the purple-golden color of the River Jambu. He may see creatures of every kind becoming Thus-Come Ones. At that moment, he will see Vairocana Buddha seated upon a dais of celestial light and surrounded by a thousand Buddhas. Each of these Buddhas, while seated on a lotus-flower, will appear in a hundred million lands at once. This state is called ‘the mind and spirit becoming imbued with a spiritual awakening while the mind illuminates all worlds clearly and in detail.’ There is nothing unwholesome about his state unless he thinks that he is now a sage. If he does think he is a sage, he will be open to a host of deviant influences.

[5] “Further, in the midst of his mental darkness, as this person continues these contemplations within his wondrous awareness, he may be unable to bring them to a halt. When he tries to subdue his mind so that these visions do not become overwhelming, all of space throughout the ten directions may suddenly take on the colors of the seven precious things or perhaps the colors of a hundred precious gems. Each of these colors will pervade all of space, but without interfering with each other. The practitioner will see the blues, yellows, reds, and whites with perfect clarity. This state is called ‘restraining the mind so that its contemplations do not become excessive.’ What the practitioner has gained is temporary. It does not indicate that he has become a sage. There is nothing unwholesome about his state unless he thinks that he is now a sage. If he does think he is a sage, he will be open to a host of deviant influences.

[6] “Further, in the midst of his mental darkness, this person’s awareness may shine constantly with a brilliant light. Then in the middle of the night and in darkened rooms, he may be able to see as clearly as if it were broad daylight. Objects that would ordinarily be hidden may be clearly visible to him. This state is called ‘refining the mind and purifying the vision to reveal what is hidden so that one can see in the dark.’ What the practitioner has gained is temporary. It does not indicate that he has become a sage. There is nothing unwholesome about his state unless he thinks that he is now a sage If he does think he is a sage, he will be open to a host of deviant influences.

[7] “Further, in the midst of this person’s mental darkness, what is external and what is internal may become mutually interfused within his awareness. In this state, this person may suddenly become incapable of sensation. It may seem to him that his limbs are made of grass or wood. If he is burned, he will feel nothing. If he is stabbed, he will feel that his body is like a piece of wood that is being carved. This state is called ‘rejecting the four primary elements so that sense-objects disappear and only awareness remains.’ What the practitioner has gained is temporary. It does not indicate that he has become a sage. There is nothing unwholesome about his state unless he thinks that he is now a sage. If he does think he is a sage, he will be open to a host of deviant influences.

[8] “Further, in the midst of his mental darkness, this person’s awareness may become pure, and as a result, his skill will be perfected. Then he suddenly may see the whole world throughout the ten directions being transformed into a Buddha-land. This land will be filled with the seven precious things and will be suffused with light. In his vision the sky will be filled with magnificent and beautiful multistoried palaces and with Buddhas — with as many Thus-Come Ones as the sand-grains in the River Ganges. Nothing will obstruct this person’s vision of the hells below and of the palatial abodes of the gods above. This state is called ‘thoughts of pleasure and displeasure gradually being transformed and purified as day by day one’s concentration deepens.’ This state does not indicate that the practitioner has become a sage. There is nothing unwholesome about his state unless he thinks that he is now a sage. If he does think he is a sage, he will be open to a host of deviant influences.

[9] “Further, in the midst of his mental darkness, this person’s mind may explore distant places. In the middle of the night, he may suddenly see marketplaces, or public wells, or streets and lanes. He may see relatives or friends, and he will be able to listen to them conversing. This state is called ‘the mind, having been restrained to an extreme, flying outward to see much that has been blocked from view.’ This state does not indicate that the practitioner has become a sage. There is nothing unwholesome about his state unless he thinks that he is now a sage. If he does think he is a sage, he will be open to a host of deviant influences.

[10] “Further, in the midst of his mental darkness, as he pushes his mental explorations to their limit, this person may have a vision of himself as a good and wise teacher. He may be able to change his appearance from moment to moment, quickly taking on different forms one after another. This state is called ‘a vision arising from a deviance in the mind, leading to possession by a nightmare-ghost, a mountain spirit, or a celestial demon.’ While he is possessed, the practitioner may speak spontaneously of what he supposes to be the Dharma, and he may claim to have discovered wondrous truths. The practitioner has not become a sage. There is nothing unwholesome about this state unless he thinks that he is now a sage. If he does think he is a sage, he will be open to a host of deviant influences.

“These ten states, Ānanda, may manifest when these beings practice meditation in stillness and interact with the aggregate of form. They may be dulled and confused by these experiences, and they will no longer be capable of taking a proper measure of themselves. When faced with these circumstances, they will become further confused, and in their failure to know themselves, they will make the claim that they have reached the level of a sage. This egregious falsehood will cause them to fall into the Unrelenting Hell.

“After my nirvana, you must explain my teachings and transmit them to beings of the time of the Dharma’s ending so that all beings everywhere will understand what I have taught. Do not allow the celestial demons to have their way. Protect these practitioners and lend them support so that they can realize the supreme enlightenment.”

Ten Demonic States of Mind Associated with the Aggregate of Sense-Perception

“Ānanda, as this good person practices samādhi and as his mind becomes still, he no will longer experience the aggregate of form. He may see the mind of the Buddhas appear to him as if in a mirror. But he may not know how to make use of that mind. He may undergo what seems to him to be a kind of paralysis. It is as if a deviant being has come into contact with his mind and has prevented him from moving, even though his hands and feet are intact and his vision and hearing are unimpaired. He is now in the region of the aggregate of sense-perception.

“If the paralysis subsides, his mind will be able to leave his body, and he will be able to look back and see his own face. He will be able to stay or go as he pleases, without further hindrance. Having reached the end of the aggregate of sense-perception, he will now transcend the turbidity of perception. He contemplates how this aggregate arises, and he sees that its basis lies in illusion and deluded thinking.

[1] “Ānanda, in this situation, this good person experiences an inner light of great brilliance. If he has been restraining his mind too severely, then wherever he sees beings illuminated by the light that shines forth from his mind, he may immediately be overwhelmed by a boundless sorrow. He will look upon even mosquitoes and worms as he would look upon a newborn child. His mind will be filled with pity, and he will frequently burst into tears without knowing why. This state is called ‘an excess of severity in one’s practice.’ If he understands this state, he will not suppose that he has become a sage, and he will not become confused. Eventually the state will disappear of its own accord. But if he thinks that he has become a sage, then a demonic sorrow will enter into the depths of his mind. Whenever he sees someone, he will feel such sadness that he will break into uncontrollable sobs. Having lost his ability to enter correct samādhi, he is certain to fall.

[2] “Further, in this samādhi, once this good person has seen the aggre-gate of form disintegrate, he will see the aggregate of sense-perception sense-perception appear. He may then have a vision of his own superiority, for which he feels an overwhelming gratitude. Immediately a boundless courage and intensity may arise within him so that he comes to believe that his resolve is equal to the resolve of all Buddhas. He will announce that he can accomplish in a single moment of thought what others need three quadrillions of eons to accomplish. This state is called ‘an excessive and improper haste in trying to excel in one’s spiritual practice.’ If he understands this state, he will not suppose that he has become a sage, and he will not become confused. Eventually the state will disappear of its own accord. But if he thinks that he has become a sage, a demonic insanity will enter into the depths of his mind. He will boast about himself to everyone he meets. In his boundless arrogance he will acknowledge neither Buddhas nor ordinary people. Having lost his ability to enter the correct samādhi, he is certain to fall.

[3] “Further, in this samādhi, once this good person has seen the aggre-gate of form disintegrate, he will see the aggregate of sense-perception appear. He may then see nothing further to accomplish, while being unable to return to his previous state. He no longer has the wisdom to understand what is happening to him, and he enters a state in which it seems he is in a land that is desolate as far as the eye can see. Suddenly he will experience an overwhelming feeling of inner aridity and longing. He will be plunged at all times into memories that will not fade. He will mistake his situation for evidence that he is being diligent and vigorous. This state is called ‘losing one’s way by practicing without sufficient wisdom.’ If he understands this state, he will not suppose that he has become a sage. But if he thinks that he has become a sage, then a demonic longing for things past will enter into the depths of his mind. Day and night this longing will grasp hold of his mind, and he will not be able to let go of it. Having lost his ability to enter correct samādhi, he is certain to fall.

[4] “Further, in this samādhi, once this good person has seen the aggre-gate of form disintegrate, he will see the aggregate of sense-perception appear. He may have developed his wisdom more strongly than he has developed his samādhi, and as a result he may lose himself in a fierce boldness. He will cherish a belief in his own superiority, and he will make the mistake of supposing that he has become Vairocana Buddha. He will be content with what he believes he has achieved, although in fact he will have accomplished very little. This state is called ‘mental effort leading to a loss of steady discernment upon becoming immersed in a wrong understanding of one’s state of mind.’ If he understands this state, he will not suppose that he has become a sage. But if he thinks that he has become a sage, then his contentment with an inferior accomplishment will become demonic and will seize hold of his mind. Under its influence he will announce, ‘I have discovered the supreme and ultimate truth.’ Having lost his ability to enter correct samādhi, he is certain to fall.

[5] “Further, in this samādhi, once this good person has seen the aggre-gate of form disintegrate, he will see the aggregate of sense-perception appear. But he may feel that he has not accomplished anything new, as he feels he should have. Yet he cannot resume his previous state of mind, nor can he move forward to a new state. In both what is behind him and what is ahead of him he will sense that he is in peril. Immediately he will become extremely despondent. It may seem to him that he is lying on a bed of hot iron or that he has swallowed a dose of poison. He will have no wish to go on living, and he will persist in asking people to take his life so that he can escape his anxiety with an early death. This state is called ‘losing sight of what method is suitable to one’s practice.’ If he understands this state, he will not suppose that he has become a sage. But if he thinks that he has become a sage, then his chronic despondency will become demonic and will take over his mind. He may seize a sword and slash his own flesh, happy to give up his life, or driven by his chronic despondency, he may flee into the mountain forests because he cannot bear the company of other people. Having lost his ability to enter correct samādhi, he is certain to fall.

[6] “Further, in this samādhi, once this good person has seen the aggre-gate of form disintegrate, he will see the aggregate of sense-perception appear. He may come to abide in a state of purity, and his mind will be at peace. A feeling of boundless joy may suddenly well up within him. He will take such pleasure in this state of mind that he loses control of it. This state is called ‘feeling what one takes to be serenity but lacking the wisdom to exercise self-control.’ If he understands this state, he will not suppose that he has become a sage. But if he thinks that he has become a sage, then his fondness for joy will become demonic and will take hold of his mind. He will laugh whenever he meets someone, and he will sing and dance in the streets. He will claim to have attained an unimpeded liberation. Having lost his ability to enter correct samādhi, he is certain to fall.

[7] “Further, in this samādhi, once this good person has seen the aggregate of form disintegrate, he will see the aggregate of sense-perception appear. Now he may tell himself that he has done enough, and immediately an unreasonable and intense arrogance will well up within him.

He will feel pride in his actual status, and further, he will arrogantly consider himself to be the equal of people whose status is in fact above his. He may also have the arrogance to think that he is not merely equal to but superior to people whose status is above his. He may cherish the arrogant belief that he is already enlightened. Finally, he will come to the arrogant conclusion that he is almost the equal of people who are greatly superior to him. These feelings arise in him all at the same time. He will think disparagingly even of the Thus-Come Ones throughout the ten directions, not to speak of the sages at the lower levels of realization — the Hearers of the Teaching and the Solitary Sages. This state is called ‘having the view that one is superior and lacking the wisdom to free oneself of this view.’ If he understands this state, he will not suppose that he has become a sage. But if he thinks that he has become a sage, then a demonic arrogance will enter the depths of his mind. He will refuse to bow when he visits stupas or temples, and he will destroy sutras and images of the Buddhas. He will say to those who give him alms, ‘These images are nothing but gold or bronze, nothing but clay or wood. The sutras consist of nothing but palm-leaves or layers of cloth. What is everlasting and real is my physical body, yet you do not revere it. Instead you venerate clay and wood. That is to get it backwards.’ Some people will believe in him so strongly that they follow him in smashing images or in discarding sutras in refuse pits. He will raise doubts in people’s minds and lead them straight into the Unrelenting Hell. Having lost his ability to enter correct samādhi, he is certain to fall.

[8] “Further, in this samādhi, once this good person has seen the aggre-gate of form disintegrate, he will see the aggregate of sense-perception appear. He may perfect an even more subtle basis for his already refined understanding. He may reach a state in which everything is in accord with his wishes. Immediately a feeling of infinite serenity may arise in his mind. He may tell himself that he has become a sage and has achieved complete mastery of himself. This state is called ‘becoming pure and serene on the basis of wisdom.’ If he understands this state, he will not persist in supposing that he has become a sage. But if he continues to think that he has become a sage, then a demonic pleasure in serenity will enter into the depths of his mind. The good person will tell himself that he has done enough, and he will no longer try to make progress. In this he will be acting much like that ignorant monk. He will lead people into delusion and error, and as a result they will fall straight into the Unrelenting Hell. Having lost his ability to enter correct samādhi, he is certain to fall.

[9] “Further, in this samādhi, once this good person has seen the aggre-gate of form disintegrate, he will see the aggregate of sense-perception appear. Within what has been his clear understanding, an illusory understanding may arise, and immediately he may come to the conclusion that there is no existence after death. His preoccupation with this wrong idea of emptiness may cause him to deny the existence of causation. He will be convinced by this wrong idea so much so that he will come to the further conclusion that after death there is nothing at all. If he understands this state, he will not suppose that he has become a sage. But if he thinks that he has become a sage, then a demonic wrong view of emptiness will enter into the depths of his mind. He will speak ill of keeping the precepts, saying that precepts are the province of the Lesser Vehicle. He will say that since Bodhisattvas have understood emptiness, how could there be any keeping or breaking of precepts where Bodhisattvas are concerned? In the presence of almsgivers who have faith in him, he will often drink alcoholic beverages, eat meat, and defile himself with lustful promiscuity. His demonic power will keep his followers from doubting him and questioning his doctrines. When this ghostly state of mind has possessed him for a long time, he may even drink urine and eat excrement, saying that these things are the same as emptiness. Because he himself will feel free to violate the Buddha’s regulations, he will induce others to commit offenses. Having lost his ability to enter correct samādhi, he is certain to fall.

[10] “Further, in this samādhi, once this good person has seen the aggre-gate of forms disintegrate, he will see the aggregate of sense-perception appear. Now his previous illusory understanding may become so strong that it fills his mind and permeates his bones. Then a boundless craving may suddenly arise in his mind and may become so extreme that he goes mad with sexual desire. This state is called ‘being in a samādhi in which one’s mind seems filled with contentment and making the mistake of succumbing to desire because one lacks the wisdom needed for self-control.’ If he understands this state, he will not suppose that he has become a sage. But if he thinks that he has become a sage, a demon of desire will enter the depths of his mind and possess him. He will constantly speak of desire as the Bodhisattvas’ path. He will teach his white-robed followers that those who indulge in indiscriminate promiscuity will be the ones who will inherit his Dharma. Because in the time of the Dharma’s ending credulous people will be easily swayed by the power of ghosts and spirits, he will be able to attract a following of one or two hundred or perhaps five or six hundred people, or even a thousand or ten thousand people. But when the demon that has possessed him becomes weary of possessing him, it will abandon him. Then his charisma will vanish, and as a result he will become entangled in legal difficulties with the royal government. He will confuse his followers and lead them straight into the Unrelenting Hell. Having lost his ability to enter correct samādhi, he is certain to fall.

“These ten states, Ānanda, may manifest when these beings practice meditation in stillness and interact with the aggregate of sense-perception. They may be dulled and confused by these experiences, and they will no longer be capable of taking a proper measure of themselves. When faced with these circumstances, they will become further confused, and in their failure to know themselves, they will make the claim that they have reached the level of a sage. This egregious falsehood will cause them to fall into the Unrelenting Hell.

“After my nirvana, you must explain my teachings and transmit them to beings of the time of the Dharma’s ending so that all beings everywhere will understand what I have taught. Do not allow the celestial demons to have their way. Protect these practitioners and lend them support so that they can realize the supreme enlightenment.”